Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates. He has also been featured on sites like UpJourney.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that exis...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Jul 4, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • If you are pulled over for driving without insurance, the police officer can tow your car to an impound yard
  • If you live in a state with a mandatory impound policy in place, you could lose your car for up to 90 days
  • Some states only require a vehicle to be impounded when the owner has multiple driving without insurance citations
  • To get your vehicle released, you have to pay the cost of towing the car as well as storage and impound fees
  • You’ll also need to provide a copy of your ID, your registration, and proof of insurance to get your car back


Car Out Of Impound Without Insurance
Vehicle Impound FactsFrom the Experts...
There are 22 states with specific towing and impoundment lawsCenters for Disease Control
Police can impound your vehicle for a number of reasons including when the driver committed a crime, when the car is considered evidence of a crime, when the car is a threat to public safetyNolo
Insurance is required to legally drive on the road and violating these laws results in a number of consequences which can include vehicle impoundmentInsurance Information Institute
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Vehicle impoundment is a scary term to most vehicle owners. If you’re not familiar with the term, impounding a car is the legal process of taking control of a car and transporting it to an impound lot until certain conditions are met, at which point the owner is allowed to get their vehicle back.

Now you are asking “The police impounded my car. How do i get it back?” And “Can I get my car out of impound without insurance?”

Since the average person relies on their car, having your vehicle impounded can affect your whole life.

There are a variety of reasons your vehicle might be impounded, like driving without insurance, and a very specific process for getting your vehicle out of impound.

We can’t tell you How you get your car out of impound in GTA 5, but we can help with your car in real life.

Why might a car be impounded? Can you get a car out of impound without insurance? Keep reading to find the answers to these and other important vehicle impound questions.

Make sure you are properly insured in case you ever have to deal with vehicle impoundment. Get started by finding the insurance that’s right for you; enter your ZIP code to begin!

Auto Insurance and Vehicle Impound

If your vehicle has been impounded, you probably want to know why, so you can avoid it happening again. You’ll also need to know how to find out if your car was impounded, and what you need to do in order to get it out of impound. Read through the next few sections to learn more.

What are the most common reasons for impounding a vehicle?

Cars are impounded by police quite often. And you may not be notified. If your vehicle has disappeared, you can often find out if it was impounded (and if so, where it sis located) by contacting your local department of motor vehicles. You’ll need your vehicle’s identification number (VIN), in order to search effectively.

There are numerous reasons why your vehicle might be impounded. In some cases, it can be the result of the vehicle being used in a crime like driving under the influence or with a suspended license. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that there are 22 states that currently have vehicle impoundment laws on the books (though your vehicle can be impounded regardless of where you live). Take a look at this table to see a summary of their data.

Vehicle Impoundment and Confiscation Laws by State
StateVehicle Impoundment
and Confiscation Laws
AlabamaA vehicle may be impounded if a driver is found to be driving with a revoked license or driving with a license suspended because of a DWI-related offense or refuses a breath test. However, the law provides that the vehicle will be released to the registered owner if the offender is not the owner. Further, police can release the vehicle, rather than impounding it, if it is determined that the driving is due to an emergency. This law does not seem to be aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by separating offenders from their vehicles.
AlaskaThe municipalities may enact ordinances to impound or confiscate motor vehicles for violations of local DWI offenses or refusal of chemical test laws for first and subsequent offenses. However, these laws are not mandatory.
ArizonaUnder Arizona’s temporary vehicle impoundment law, the offender’s vehicle may be immediately impounded for 30 days if the driver is arrested for any of the following offenses: (1) DWR for any reason; (2) DWS where the suspension was based on driving under the influence; (3) DWS where the suspension was based on a drunk-driving offense; or (4) DWS where the suspension was based on the frequency of traffic law violation convictions. The vehicle may be released before 30 days if the offender’s driving privileges have been reinstated or if the offender’s spouse enters a five-year agreement with the state to not to allow an unlicensed driver to operate the vehicle.
CaliforniaCalifornia has two vehicle impoundment laws. The first law states that a vehicle owned and driven by an offender may be impounded up to 30 days for a first or second DWI offense and up to 90 days for third and subsequent offenses, if the offense is committed within five years of a prior offense. This first law prevents the vehicle from being impounded if it is the only vehicle available to the family or if another person has a community-property interest in the vehicle. The second law states that the vehicle owned and driven by the offender may be impounded for up to six months for a first DWI offense and up to 12 months for a subsequent DWI offense. We found no information on reasons one law might be enforced rather than the other. There is no mention of laws concerning chemical test refusals.
ConnecticutConnecticut has a vehicle impoundment law. The vehicle may be impounded for refusing a chemical test, which is a criminal offense and a felony DWI for a third or subsequent DWI offense. An ALR suspension counts as a prior DWI offense. There is also limited vehicle impoundment of 48 hours if a driver is arrested for drinking and driving with a suspended or revoked license. This law seems intended to prevent the offender from operating the vehicle immediately after the drinking-and-driving offense, rather than being aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by offenders.
Washington D.C.The District of Columbia also has a limited vehicle impoundment law, under which impoundment is limited to 24 hours. However, the vehicle may be released to a legally licensed driver.
FloridaFlorida has a vehicle impoundment law, under which the vehicle that is used and owned in a first DWI offense may be impounded for ten days. This action may not be concurrent with probation or imprisonment. For a second DWI offense within five years, the vehicle can be impounded for 30 days and, for a third DWI offense within ten years, for 90 days. This applies to all vehicles owned by the offender and may not be concurrent with probation or imprisonment. However, unlike first DWI offenses, it must be concurrent with the driver’s license revocation. For first, second, and third DWI offenses, these actions are conditions of mandatory probation; however, the court may decide not to order vehicle impoundment if the family has no other means of transportation. There also is a limited vehicle impoundment law for a DWI offense if, at the time of the DWI offense, the offender was driving with a license suspended for a prior DWI offense. This law seems intended to prevent the offender from operating the vehicle immediately after the drinking-and-driving offense, rather than being aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by offenders.
IllinoisIf the DWI offender is the registered owner, then the vehicle can be impounded for 24 hours for a second DWI offense or 48 hours for a third DWI offense. The vehicle may be released sooner to a competent, licensed driver with the owner’s consent. There also is a limited vehicle impoundment law, under which law enforcement can impound a driver’s vehicle for not more than 12 hours following a DWI arrest. Limited impoundment may be used if the officer reasonably believes that the arrested offender will commit another DWI offense if released. This law seems intended to prevent the offender from operating the vehicle immediately after the drinking-and-driving offense, rather than being aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by offenders.
IowaFor a second or subsequent DWI offense, the vehicle owned and used by the offender can be impounded or immobilized and the license plate seized (and registration confiscated if the vehicle is in custody) by law enforcement authorities. New registration plates are issued only at the end of the driver’s license revocation period or 180 days, whichever is longer.
KannsasFor DWI violations, judges, at their discretion, may order vehicle impoundment or immobilization of the vehicle used in the offense, for up to one year. The offender pays all costs. Judges must take into account hardship to family. This law went into effect on July 1, 2003.
MaineMaine also has a temporary vehicle impoundment law. The vehicle used in a DWI offense or for DWS for a prior DWI offense may be seized; however, the vehicle may be released after eight hours. This law seems intended to prevent the offender from operating the vehicle immediately after the drinking-and-driving offense, rather than being aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by offenders.
MarylandThe vehicle can be impounded or immobilized (by suspending license plates) for not more than 180 days if the driver’s license is currently suspended for a prior alcohol offense.
MinnesotaUnder Minnesota’s vehicle impoundment law, a vehicle may be impounded after a DWI arrest and released to the vehicle owner with proof of a valid driver’s license and insurance. This law seems intended to prevent the offender from operating the vehicle immediately after the drinking-and-driving offense, rather than being aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by offenders.
MississippiFor a second or subsequent DWI offenses, all vehicles owned by the offender must be impounded or immobilized at the time of conviction and remain so until the license suspension has expired. If any other person must use the vehicle, an ignition interlock may be required as an alternative to impoundment or immobilization.
MissouriMissouri has a vehicle impoundment or vehicle forfeiture law; however, under Missouri law, cities with populations higher than 100,000 can make their own vehicle impoundment or forfeiture laws. The state law applies to the vehicle operated by the offender regardless of ownership; consequently, the vehicle is subject to impoundment or forfeiture if the driver has had one or more DWI offenses, including illegal per se. The vehicle also can be impounded or forfeited if the offender is driving with a license suspended for a prior DWI offense or for a DWI and involuntary manslaughter offense. Last, the vehicle can be impounded or forfeited if the driver has had two or more DWI offenses (including illegal per se) and, for either offense, had a BAC of 0.08 or greater (0.02 or greater for those under 21) or if the driver has refused to submit to a chemical test under the implied-consent law.
NebraskaAn offender who is driving with a license suspended for a prior DWI or an implied-consent conviction may have his or her vehicle impounded for not less than ten days and not longer than 30 days. An offender under 21 may have his or her vehicle impounded if he or she has a BAC of 0.02 or greater.
New JerseyAccording to Century Council (2003), New Jersey has a vehicle impoundment law under which an offender’s vehicle must be impounded for 12 hours at the time of arrest. This law seems intended to prevent the offender from operating the vehicle immediately after the drinking-and-driving offense, rather than being aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by offenders. NHTSA (2003a) does not report any vehicle impoundment laws in New Jersey, which raises a question as to which source is correct.
New MexicoNew Mexico also has a vehicle immobilization law, under which a vehicle may be immobilized for 30 days if the offender was driving with a revoked license, unless immobilization poses a hardship to the family.
OregonVehicle impoundment or immobilization is limited to one year for a second or subsequent DWI offense or for driving with a suspended license. This action is at the court’s discretion and applies to all vehicles owned and used by the offender, even if not used in the offense. The offender must pay the costs of removing, storing, or immobilizing the vehicle.
VirginiaAny vehicle used in a DWI offense may be impounded or immobilized for 30 days if the offender was driving with a license suspended because of a prior DWI, an administrative per se violation, or chemical test refusal. In addition, vehicles owned by an offender may be impounded or immobilized for up to 90 days even if the vehicles were not used in the offense. There are family hardship exceptions for households with only one vehicle.
WashingtonWashington has a vehicle impoundment law. In addition to impounding the vehicle for other possible penalties for driving with a license suspended for a prior DWI conviction, authorities may also impound the vehicle for not more than 30 days on a first offense. For a second offense, the vehicle may be impounded for not more than 60 days or, for a third offense, not more than 90 days.
WisconsinThere is a policy in Wisconsin that allows temporary vehicle impoundment, as part of the immobilization process. This is not a law, just a policy, and is used only temporarily and at the discretion of officers in the field.
WyomingWyoming has a policy that allows for temporary vehicle impoundment. An offender’s vehicle may be impounded following an arrest if a sober driver is unavailable. This law seems intended to prevent the offender from operating the vehicle immediately after the drinking-and-driving offense, rather than being aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by offenders.
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In many cities, there’s a police impound lot dedicated to storing cars that have been abandoned or impounded after a crime has been committed. This is the lot that you report to when you’re ready to submit the paperwork that the citation requests for release of your car.

Another common reason a vehicle might be towed from the scene of a traffic stop and impounded is when it presents a threat to public safety. This can include the following:

  • Cars left in the middle of traffic
  • Cars that are missing important safety equipment
  • Cars that can hinder public safety
  • Cars that don’t currently have active liability auto insurance coverage

Other reasons your vehicle may be impounded include when it contains evidence of a crime and the evidence can’t be readily removed at the crime scene, the vehicle was stolen, you’re found to be driving uninsured, or the registration is expired. If the car itself is actually evidence, it can also be impounded for processing, which is common after DUI crashes and crashes where someone is charged with vehicular manslaughter.

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How can I get my car out of impound?

If you’ve ever had a car impounded, you know how stressful it can be to get the car released. There are all kinds of paperwork you need to sign and bring with you to ensure that your long wait in the line to have your car released isn’t in vain. If your car isn’t insured, there’s a strong chance that you’ll have to show you’ve purchased insurance.

Getting your car out of impound will require both paperwork like proof of insurance and paying some fees. For example, if your vehicle is impounded because your registration is expired, you may be wondering how to get a car out of impound without a registration in California or other states or how to get a car out of impound without title.

You’ll need to be prepared to pay the fees as well as present required paperwork as soon as possible, because the longer your vehicle is in impound, the more you’ll have to pay. We’ll go into detail on the paperwork and fees in a later section.

What paperwork do I need to get my vehicle out of impound?

Impound lots are typically open 24 hours a day because there’s no telling when a car will be impounded. If you need to get your car back quickly, you should have a checklist of the items that you’ll need.

What do you need to get car out of tow? It’s usually the same from city to city, but in some situations, you’ll need sign-offs that others don’t need. Here are some must-have documents:

  • Proof that you own the vehicle (title or registration)
  • Photo identification proving your identity
  • Proof that you have auto insurance on the vehicle
  • Accepted form of payment to pay any fees due

To confirm whether or not you’ll need any additional sign-offs or paperwork, you’ll need to check the exact requirements for impounded vehicles in your state. Typically your state’s department of motor vehicle website will have the information you need.

Are cars always impounded when they are uninsured?

Every state has a different set of rules when it comes to how they handle driving without insurance on the public roads. There are no two states that are alike when it comes to how an officer is ordered to handle your case when you’re pulled over.

In some states, when you’re operating your car and it’s clear you have invalid insurance, police officers will write you a ticket and order you to appear in court. In other states, when you’re caught driving uninsured it’s seen as a public safety hazard and the car is immediately towed and impounded.

How long will your car be impounded for having no insurance?

If your car is impounded for no insurance, how long you’ll be without your car depends on the state as well. Some states are willing to give car owners their cars back after they pay their fines and others will hold onto the cars for a mandatory period of time before you can take possession of it.

The only way to retrieve your vehicle legally is to satisfy the mandatory impound duration and then present the paperwork the lot needs for processing and proof of your identity. Some states require all uninsured cars to be in the lot for no less than 30 days for first-time offenders and others require a period of three months for people with multiple offenses.

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How much does it cost to get your car out of impound?

Getting your car out of impound isn’t cheap. If you were the driver or the owner of the car and you were convicted of an offense, you’re liable for all costs directly associated with the impound. You must pay all of the fees before you’ll get the car back.

Some of the fees that are included in the final invoice that you’ll pay include:

  • Towing hook-up charge
  • Towing fee per mile
  • Storage fees at the lot
  • Impound fee with the police
  • Civil fee

These fees can add up, and you may be facing a bill of anywhere between $100 and upwards of $1,000. 

Take a look at this video regarding impound fees for stolen vehicles in Texas to learn more.

Unfortunately, having to pay to get your vehicle out of impound usually applies regardless of why it was impounded. For example, if your vehicle was stolen, recovered, and taken to an impound lot, you may still have to pay the fees to be able to drive your vehicle home.

What happens if I can’t afford to get my car out of impound?

If you can’t afford to get your car out of impound, you’ll need to speak with the impound lot as soon as possible. They may have a payment plan. If not, you may need to find another way to obtain the funds (a loan, for example) because if you don’t get your vehicle out of impound within a certain amount of time, it will be forfeit and either sold at auction or destroyed.
Occasionally, when the Commissioner of Police thinks it’s necessary, the lot will waive some of the fees so you can have the vehicle released to you. However, this happens in very rare circumstances.

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What happens if your car isn’t insured?

If you were pulled over for not having insurance, you must present proof of insurance at release (and many times this is a requirement regardless of the reason for impound). However, some states will allow you to take your car home without proof of insurance if you tow, rather than drive, it away from the lot.

You can’t drive the car off of the lot without registration or proof of insurance because both are required in order to legally drive on the road.

When your car is sitting in impound and it’s eligible for release, you should arrange the release as soon as possible. The costs can add up each day the car sits there. If you need to purchase insurance before getting your vehicle released, be sure to compare auto quotes before you buy a policy.

After you get an affordable or low-cost full-coverage policy, go to the lot and provide all of the proof needed so that you can take over possession of your property.

The Bottom Line for Auto Insurance and Getting Your Vehicle out of Impound

Ultimately, the best approach is to follow all traffic laws, keep your insurance up-to-date, and do your best to avoid any behavior on the road that increases the chances of your vehicle being impounded. Though as we noted earlier, if your vehicle is stolen (which is out of your control), you may still be liable for the cost of getting your vehicle released from impound.

FAQ

Still have questions about auto insurance and impounded vehicles? Read through these frequently asked questions to learn more.

What happens if I don’t get my car out impound?

Most impound lots have a set amount of time by which you’ll be required to get your vehicle back. If you don’t claim your vehicle within that time frame, the vehicle is then sold at auction or demolished. However, you’ll still be liable for the costs of towing and storage, if the sale at auction doesn’t cover the accumulated costs.

How do I get my car out impound without paying?

If you’re wondering how to get your car out of impound for free, the answer is you can’t. You may be able to get your vehicle out of impound without paying the fees yourself if you obtain a loan or donation, but the fees will still need to be paid. This means your finance company can get your car out of impound, if they’re willing to work with you on a loan.

Can you get a car out of impound without a license?

As we already discussed, your driver’s license is typically required in order to get your vehicle out of impound. However, you may be able to get the impound lot to release your vehicle without one if you do not drive it off the lot yourself.

Can I get a car out of impound without the owner?

It is possible to release a car from impound to a non-registered owner in California if that individual is designated as your authorized representative. This individual must have a letter of authorization from you as the registered owner to pick it up, along with their driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance.

Why do I need impound insurance?

When it comes to your impounded auto, you don’t. An impound account is another name for an escrow account which is used by a mortgage lender to pay a borrower’s property-related expenses.

Be prepared in case your vehicle gets impounded. Get online quotes instantly right here by using your ZIP code. Then you can buy the policy that’s most affordable for your needs and lifestyle.

Can your car be impounded for no insurance?

Your car may be impounded if a police officer finds that you do not have auto insurance. Fines nationally range from $75 to $2,000 for a first offense.

  • State laws differ on insurance requirements and how police may check for proof of insurance
  • Your car may be impounded immediately in some circumstances if a police officer finds that you do not have insurance
  • An impoundment is expensive and time-consuming and should be avoided at all costs

With the exception of New Hampshire, all states, including the District of Columbia, have requirements for the minimum auto liability insurance that drivers must carry.

To meet these requirements, most drivers choose at least liability coverage and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) so that they are covered in the event of an auto accident.

Although the minimum requirements vary, you can expect to be required to carry some form of car insurance everywhere in the U.S.

When shopping for the best insurance coverage for you, you must make sure that the coverage meets the minimum and also adequately protects your assets in the event you cause an accident.

While some states are allowing drivers to show electronic proof of insurance, it is prudent to make sure that you have access to your insurance card in your vehicle at all times to avoid a fine.

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Penalties for Failure to Provide Proof of Car Insurance

Penalties for Driving Without Auto Insurance by State
STATEFIRST OFFENSESECOND OFFENSE
AlabamaFine: Up to $500; registration suspension with $200 reinstatement feeFine: Up to $1,000 and/or six-month license suspension; $400 reinstatement fee with four-month registration suspension
AlaskaLicense suspension for 90 daysLicense suspension for one year
ArizonaFine: $500 (or more); license/registration/license plate suspension for three monthsFine: $750 (or more within 36 months); license/registration/license plate suspension for six months
ArkansasFine: $50 to $250; suspended registration/no plates until proof of coverage plus $20 reinstatement fee; court may order impoundmentFine: $250 to $500 fine — minimum fine mandatory; suspended registration/no plates until proof of coverage plus $20 reinstatement fee. Court may order impoundment
CaliforniaFine: $100-$200 plus penalty assessments. Court may order impoundmentFine: $200-$500 within three years plus penalty assessments. Court may order impoundment
ColoradoFine: $500 minimum fine; 4 points against your license; license suspension until you can show proof to the DMV that you are insured. Courts may add up to 40 hours community service$1,000 minimum fine and license suspension for 4 months; 4 points against your license. Courts may add up to 40 hours community service
ConnecticutFine: $100-$1000; suspended registration/license for one month (show proof of insurance) with $175 reinstatement feeFine: $100-$1000; suspended registration/license for six months (show proof of insurance) with $175 reinstatement fee
DelawareFine: $1500 minimum fine; license/privilege suspension for six monthsFine: $3000 minimum fine within three years; license/privilege suspension for six months
FloridaSuspension of license and registration until reinstatement fee is paid and non-cancelable coverage is secured; $150 fee for first reinstatementSuspension of license and registration until reinstatement fee is paid and non-cancelable coverage is secured; $250 fee for second reinstatement
GeorgiaSuspended registration with $25 lapse fee and $60 reinstatement fee. Pay any other registration fees and vehicle ad valorem taxes dueWithin a 5 years: Suspended registration with $25 lapse fee and $60 reinstatement fee. Pay any other registration fees and vehicle ad valorem taxes due
HawaiiFine: $500 fine or community service granted by judge. Either license suspension for three months or a required nonrefundable insurance policy in force for six monthsFine: $1500 minimum fine within five years; either license suspension for one year or a required non-refundable insurance policy in force for six months
IdahoFine: $75; license suspension until financial proof. No reinstatement fee.Fine: $1000 maximum fine within five years and/or no more than six months in jail; license suspension until financial proof. No reinstatement fee.
IllinoisLicense plate suspension until $100 reinstatement fee and insurance proofLicense plate suspension for four months; $100 reinstatement fee and insurance proof
IndianaLicense/registration suspension for 90 days to one yearWithin three years: license/registration suspension for one year
IowaFine: $500 if in accident; Otherwise, fine: $250; community service in lieu of fine. Possible citation/warning if pulled over plus removal of plates and registration possible when pulled over without insurance and reissued upon payment of fine or completed community service, proof of insurance, and $15 fee; possible impoundment when pulled overN/A
KansasFine: $300 to $1000 and/or confinement in jail up to six months; license/registration suspension; reinstatement fee: $100Fine: $800 to $2500 within three years; license/registration suspension; reinstatement fee: $300 if revoked within previous year, otherwise $100
KentuckyFine: $500 to $1000 fine and/or sentenced up to 90 days in jail; license plates and registration revoked for one year or until proof of insurance is shownWithin five years: 180 days in jail and/or $1000 to $2500; license plates and registration revoked for one year or until proof of insurance is shown
LouisianaFine: $500 to $1000; If in car accident, fine plus registration revoked and driving privileges suspended for 180 daysN/A
MaineFine: $100 to $500; suspension of license and registration until proof of insuranceN/A
MarylandLose license plates and vehicle registration privileges; pay uninsured motorist penalty fees for each lapse of insurance — $150 for the first 30 days, $7 for each day thereafter; Pay a restoration fee of up to $25 for a vehicle's registrationN/A
MassachusettsFine: $500 to $5000 fine and/or imprisonment for one year or lessWithin six years: License/driving privileges suspended for one year
MichiganFine: $200 to $500 fine and/or imprisonment for one year or less; license suspension for 30 days or until proof of insurance; $25 service fee to Secretary of StateN/A
MinnesotaFine: $200 to $1000 (or community service) and/or imprisonment for up to 90 days; License and registration revoked for no more than 12 monthsN/A
MississippiFine: $1000; driving privileges suspended for one year or until proof of insuranceN/A
MissouriFour points against driving record; driver may be supervised; suspended until proof of insurance with $20 reinstatement feeFour points against driving record; driver may be supervised; suspended for 90 days with $200 reinstatement fee
MontanaFine: $250 to $500 fine and/or imprisonment for no more than 10 daysFine: $350 and/or imprisonment for no more than 10 days — within 5 years; license and registration revoked until proof of insurance and payment of reinstatement fees within 90 days
NebraskaLicense and registration suspension; reinstatement fee of $50 for each; proof of insurance to remain on file for three years
NevadaFine: $250 to $1,000 depending on length of lapse; registration suspension — until payment of reinstatement fee and, depending on circumstances, an SR-22 (proof of financial responsiblity) if lapsed more than 90 days; reinstatement fee: $250Fine: $500 to $1000 depending on length of lapse; registration suspension — until payment of reinstatement fee and, depending on circumstances, SR-22 (proof of financial responsibility) if lapsed more than 90 days; Reinstatement fee: $500
New HampshireNot a mandatory insurance state. Proof of insurance may be required as the result of a conviction, crash involvement, or administrative action. If you are required to file proof of insurance and vehicles are registered in your name, you will be required to file an Owner’s SR-22 Certificate of Insurance.N/A
New JerseyFine: $300 to $1000; license suspension for one year; pay surcharges for three years in the amount of $250 per yearFine: up to $5000; two-year license suspension; 14-day, mandatory jail term, and an additional mandatory 30 days of community service
New MexicoFine: up to $300 and/or imprisoned for 90 days; license suspensionN/A
New YorkFine: up to $1500 if involved in accident plus $750 civil penalty; license and registration suspension – revoked for one year; suspension of license if without insurance for 90 days; suspension lasts as long as registration suspension; Suspension of registration: equal to time without insurance or pays $8/day up to thirty days for which financial security was not in effect, $10/day from the thirty-first to the sixtieth day $12/day from the sixtieth to the ninetieth day and proof of security is provided. Or for the same time as the vehicle was operated without insurance.N/A
North CarolinaFine: $50; registration suspension until proof of financial responsibility but 30-day suspension if in car accident or knowingly driving without insurance; $50 restoration fee plus license plate feeFine: $100 within three years; registration suspension until proof of financial responsibility but 30-day suspension if in car accident or knowingly driving without insurance; $50 restoration fee plus license plate fee
North DakotaFine: up to $1500 and/or 30 days in prison; 14 points against license plus suspension; Proof of insurance must be provided for one year; license with a notation requiring that person keep proof of liability insurance on file with the department. The fee for this license is $50, and the fee to remove this notation is $50.Fine: up to $1500 and/or 30 days in prison; 14 points against license plus suspension; license plates impounded until proof of insurance (provided for one year) plus $20 reinstatement fee; license with a notation requiring that person keep proof of liability insurance on file with the department. The fee for this license is $50 and the fee to remove this notation is $50.
OhioLicense/plates/registration suspension until requirements are met and $100 reinstatement fee is paid; maintain special high-risk coverage on file with the BMV for three to five years; If involved in accident without insurance: all above penalties and a security suspension for two plus years and an indefinite judgment suspension (until all damages are satisfied)License/plates/registration suspension for one year; $300 reinstatement fee; maintain special high-risk coverage on file with the BMV for three or five years; if involved in accident without insurance: all above penalties and a security suspension for two plus years and an indefinite judgment suspension (until all damages are satisfied)
OklahomaFine: $250; jail time up to 30 days; license suspension with $275 reinstatement fee. Police can seize license plates and assign temporary plates and liability insurance — in effect for 10 days and can also impound the vehicle. The cost of the temporary coverage is added to the administrative fee and any fines paid for plates to be returned. If car impounded, owner must also pay towing and storage fees.N/A
OregonFine: $130-$1000 ($260 is the presumptive fine); If involved in accident — at least a one year license suspension; proof of financial responsibility required for three yearsN/A
PennsylvaniaRegistration suspended for three months (unless lapse was for less than 31 days and vehicle not operated during that time); $88 restoration fee plus proof of insurance required to get it back; $500 civil penalty fee is optional in lieu of registration suspension plus $88 restoration fee — can only use this option once within a 12-month periodN/A
Rhode IslandFine: $100 to $500; license and registration suspension up to three months; reinstatement fee: $30 to $50Fine: $500; license and registration suspension up to six months; reinstatement fee: $30 to $50
South CarolinaFine: $100-$200 or 30-day imprisonment; failure to surrender registration and plates when insurance lapses; license/registration suspended until proof of insurance plus $200 reinstatement feeFine: $200 and/or 30-day imprisonment — within 10 years; license/registration suspended until proof of insurance plus $200 reinstatement fee
South DakotaFine: $100 and/or 30 days imprisonment; license suspension for 30 days to one year; filing proof of insurance (SR-22) with the state for three years from date of conviction. Failure to file proof will result in suspension of vehicle registration, license plates, and driver license.N/A
TennesseePay $25 coverage failure fee within 30 days of notice; if not paid, then an additional $100 coverage failure fee with suspension or revocation of registration plus reinstatement fee of no more than $25N/A
TexasFine: $175 to $350 fine; plus, pay up to a $250 surcharge every year for three years (may be reduced with certain requirements)Fine: $350 to $1000; pay up to a $250 surcharge every year for three years (may be reduced with certain requirements); suspend the driver's license and vehicle registrations of the person unless the person files and maintains evidence of financial responsibility with the department until the second anniversary of the date of the subsequent conviction; Impoundment: for 180 days and cannot apply for release of car without evidence of financial responsibility and impoundment fee of $15/day.
UtahFine: $400; license suspension until proof of insurance (maintained for three years) and $100 reinstatement feeFine: $1000 — with three years; license suspension until proof of insurance (maintained for three years) and $100 reinstatement fee
VermontFine: up to $500; license suspended until proof of insuranceN/A
VirginiaFine: may pay $500 Uninsured Motorists Vehicle fee to drive without insurance at your own risk. If this fee is not paid in lieu of insurance, all driving and vehicle registration privileges will be suspended until a $500 statutory fee is paid, proof of insurance is filed for three years, and a reinstatement fee (if applicable) is paidN/A
WashingtonFine: Up to $250 or moreN/A
West VirginiaFine: $200 to $5000; license suspended for 30 days with reinstatement fees, unless there's proof of insurance and $200 penalty feeFine: $200-$5000 fine and/or 15 days to one year in jail — within five years; license suspended for 90 days and registration revoked until proof of insurance
WisconsinFine: up to $500N/A
WyomingFine: up to $750 fine and up to six months in jailN/A
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Just as the state requirements for minimum coverage can vary across the country, so do the penalties for driving without proof of insurance. Even if you are involved in an accident through no fault of your own, you can face a range of

Even if you are involved in an accident through no fault of your own, you can face a range of penalties for being caught driving without proof of insurance.

The penalties imposed upon you for driving without proof of car insurance can include both civil and criminal penalties and fines. This is why it is especially important to ensure that you are complying with all coverage requirements when shopping around for car insurance.

Even if you are using a vehicle for business and not personal purposes, you are still required to maintain car insurance for that vehicle or risk facing serious penalties.

For example, in some states you could face the following penalties for being caught driving without proof of auto insurance coverage:

  • Points against your driver’s license
  • $500 fine
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Community service
  • Confiscation of your driver’s license
  • Immediate impoundment of your vehicle

The amount of your fine and duration of a potential driver’s license suspension can vary by state. In addition, if you are caught driving without insurance multiple times, the potential penalties can increase for each repeated offense.

Besides the penalties you may face for driving without insurance, you may also forfeit your right to recover against another driver even if they are the cause of the accident and injury to you or your vehicle.

Certain states have enacted a “no pay, no play” policy towards uninsured motorists, which prevents them from seeking any recovery against another driver if the uninsured driver is involved in a car accident that it not his fault.

States are seeking to remove any doubt that motorists are required to have car insurance and cannot benefit by driving without it.

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Avoiding Impoundment of Your Vehicle

It is a huge gamble to drive without insurance in the hopes that you will not get caught eventually.

While there is no guarantee that your vehicle will be immediately impounded if you are stopped for driving without insurance or involved in an accident without having auto insurance, police officers are well within their rights to call for your car to be immediately impounded in many jurisdictions.

This means that you will pay the cost of towing and storage fees before you can retrieve your vehicle. The costs of the impoundment can be extremely high even for a short while.

In case you needed another reason to avoid impoundment of your vehicle, you should be aware that it is legal for police officers to search your vehicle once it has been impounded.

Even if you have not been involved in any illegal activity, it is best to avoid unnecessary searches of your vehicle by the police that could complicate the entire process of getting your car out of impoundment.

Given that the process is already expensive enough, you do not need to deal with any additional headaches from being caught driving without insurance.

Avoiding Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance

In sum, having your car impounded by the police is just one of the unnecessary and expensive penalties you could face from being caught driving without auto insurance.

Even though the penalties for not providing proof of auto insurance can vary by state, you can expect a serious headache if you are caught driving without it by the police.

When making a decision about what car insurance policy is best and most cost effective for you and your family, making sure that you are covered for all of the state minimum car insurance requirements is one of the best ways to avoid the problems associated with dealing with being caught without car insurance.

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References:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/calculator/factsheet/impoundment.html
  2. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/if-the-police-impound-car-can-search.html#:~:text=If%20you%20are%20arrested%20for,are%20entitled%20to%20search%20it.